A bored dog is a “naughty dog” if for no other reason than they will find a way to entertain themselves if you fail to do it for them. Unfortunately, when entertaining themselves, our dogs don’t always understand the difference between dangerous or forbidden and dog-friendly items. Here are the 30 ways that you can entertain your bored dog to avoid that holiday boredom from setting in!
We put this at the top of the list and in ALL CAPS because it is the single most effective tool for entertaining a bored dog and keeping them from becoming naughty. A nice long walk gives the dog a chance to investigate their surroundings and leave “messages” for other canines. Then, when you get home and have to head off to work, your dog will be tired enough to sleep for most of the time that you are gone.
2. Teach Your Dog to Use Their Natural Talents
Everyone loves discovering a task that they’re good at, even your pooch. If your dog is easily bored, teach them games that make use of their natural scenting ability. A great example of this is “hide and seek” or “find it” game for dogs.
We taught our resident Labrador these two games using his favorite toys and bones and even taught him the “warmer” and “colder” commands to help him find things when he was stumped. The game not only thrilled him, but it was fun for us too.
3. Go Somewhere New
If you always take your dog on the same old circuit when you go for your daily walks, going somewhere new will give your pup a chance to investigate new things and smell new scent marks. It's a perfect way to also mentally stimulate your pet's brain and prevent potential future mental health issues.
4. Give Your Dog a Job
Not every dog is built to serve as a service dog, but every canine is capable of doing a job and most dogs find it extremely satisfying. Whether it’s something as simple as collecting the daily newspaper from the driveway or as complicated as tucking the kids into bed, a job can give your dog purpose and relieve boredom.
5. Set Up Playdates
If the weather has been horrendous for longer than you can remember and your dog is going stir-crazy, call their best doggy friend and arrange for a playdate at your house or theirs. Discuss this with your other dog owner friends or family, and follow some doggy playdate rules to ensure a safe and productive time.
6. Set Up a Pool
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for dogs. So if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the weather is gorgeous all year round and it's warm enough to get into water, consider investing in a dog swimming pool and set it up in your fenced backyard. Get into your own bathing suit and start the sprinklers for some silly but fun playtime with the pet.
7. Go Shopping
If your dog does well with new situations and new people, their boredom can be relieved while you're relieving your craving for some store hopping. Take a shopping trip to your local dog-friendly stores with your pup and let him see what the world of pet products looks like.
8. Build a Digging Pit
If your dog isn’t a swimmer but they do love to dig, set up a large sandbox in your backyard and let your dog have at it. You can purchase a portable sandbox and place it anywhere where there's space for it. Digging is a natural instinct and many dogs find it very satisfying.
9. A Ball Pit
This is something we have planned for Christmas this year – a dog-friendly pool filled with non-toxic dog-friendly ball pit balls. If your dog is ball obsessed, this is a great (and fun) way to occupy rainy days and keep boredom at bay for your Fido.
10. Dog TV
We also have a resident terrier who, like most terriers, can be exceptionally sneaky and destructive when he gets bored. Dog TV has been a great tool to keep him occupied when he is left at home alone because it keeps him focused on the dogs on the TV screen (he even takes toys to the screen to play with them).
11. Build an Obstacle Course in Your Back Yard
You can either purchase your own agility kit, or if you are DIY inclined you can build an obstacle course in the backyard to help your dog to work off some of that pent-up energy. It’s important to be sure that every component of this course is safe for your dog, and that you never leave them to use the course unsupervised.
12. Rotate Out Your Dog’s Toys
If your dog is blessed with more toys than they can possibly play with, take a portion of those toys, wash them and put them into a vacuum sealed bag. Periodically switch out toys they play with for these toys in storage to provide your dog with a fresh supply of “new” toys. Just be sure to wash the toys before storing.
13. Invest in a Pet Sitter
You can drop your pup off with a pet sitter every morning before work, you can have them picked up, or you can just have a pet sitter drop by to take your dog out to walk and play. If there's not enough time in a day for you to entertain a bored dog yourself, a dog boarding service like this could be a life saver for everybody.
14. Take Your Dog to Work
If it's not separation anxiety, then many dogs get “bored” simply because they are left alone without companionship for a large portion of the day. This can be remedied by taking your dog to work with you if this is permitted. You may even find that your dog wasn’t bored at all and they were just missing you.
15. Foster a Dog
If and only if you are in a position to provide for another dog and your dog thrives on the company of other animals, fostering is a great solution. Not only does your dog have company to play with rather than getting bored while being left home alone, but you’re also doing something great for the homeless pet population.
16. Training or Obedience
Nothing stimulates your dog more than using their brain power and one of the best ways to do this is to teach them new obedience commands and tasks. This also helps to improve your bond with your dog and improve the communication between you both while raising a well-behaved canine.
Obedience training is the essential foundation, but you can also have fun while relieving boredom in your pup by teaching him cool dog tricks. They don’t have to be “useful” tasks (this falls more under canine obedience training), but new tricks are a fun way for you and your dog to fight off that boredom.
18. Head Out for a Game of Fetch
A game of fetch at the local enclosed dog area, a park where dogs are allowed or even in your backyard is a great way for your dog to burn off that pent up energy and subsequently that boredom. Even if you’re low on energy, you can use a dog ball launcher like ChuckIt! or Nerf throw the ball while sitting down.
19. Invest in a Snuffle Mat
If you haven’t heard of the snuffle mat for pets yet you should take a look at this Wooly Snuffle Mat that’s available through Amazon. Used for mealtimes and for brain stimulation in dogs, all you need to do is hide some tasty treats or kibble in the tall fibers of the mat and let your dog’s natural foraging instinct take over.
20. Check Out Treat Tossing Cameras
If you have to work and your dog is getting bored at home alone, treat tossing cameras are a fun way to stay connected and keep your dog busy. Depending on the camera, some have screens, microphones and even essential oils to keep your pup engaged. We've tested many dog cameras before, but we particularly liked Furbo and Petcube – both allow you to check in with your dog via video feed.
21. Invest in Interactive Puzzles
Not all dog toys are the same. Interactive puzzles will keep your dog’s brain stimulated and engaged even when you’re not at home. Just be sure that the toys you choose are appropriate for your dog’s size and safe for your dog to play with when you are not around if you do decide to leave them alone. There's many interactive dog toys out there for you to try.
22. Fill a Kong with Frozen Treats
If you can’t be at home but your dog is bored out of their mind, try filling a traditional KONG dog toy with peanut butter or a mix of peanut butter and banana. Give them the toy right before you head out and it’ll keep them entertained for a short while and distracted from your leaving.
23. The Treat Hunt Game
One of our favorite ways to keep our “hide and seeking” Labrador busy when he was left home alone bored was for one of us to take him out to potty while the other hid small pieces of treats around the house. This gave him the chance to play his own game of hide and seek while we were out of the house. Just be sure to take note of how many dog treats you hide and where you hide them, so you don’t miss any yourself.
24. Expand Your Dog’s Vocabulary
It’s true that some dogs have a better capacity for learning the English language, but all dogs can learn vocabulary words. Without getting too ambitious, make a list of words to teach your dog and tackle them one by one. For example, teach your dog the names of their toys. This also has the added bonus of improving your dog’s ability to communicate with you.
25. Sign Up for a Dog Sport
There are many different dog sports out there and depending on what your dog enjoys it’s possible that taking part in one of these canine-friendly sports could not only relieve boredom in your dog, but also be something that they really excel at. Maybe you'll discover a future canine athlete in your pooch!
26. Pursue CGC Certification
CGC or Canine Good Citizen certification is about more than just teaching your dog how to act in certain situations; it’s also about teaching your dog to be an ambassador for their breed and species. Plus, if your dog obtains their CGC certification you will have more opportunity to take them out in public and not worry about how they’re going to behave.
27. Consider App Controlled Toys
Similar to the treat tossing cameras, app-controlled dog toys give you the opportunity to play and interact with your dog through your smartphone even when you’re at work. A great place to find these types of toys for a good price is through sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo – this is where we found the WickedBone.
28. Invest in a Slow Feeder
If you can’t quite stretch your budget to a bunch of interactive dog toys, take a look at maze-style slow feeders for dogs. This dog bowls that slow down eating are very affordable and are designed to make mealtimes a challenge for your pet that gulps food too quickly, and it makes your dog work for their kibble.
29. Set Up a Window Seat
Cats aren't the only animal to stare through the window obsessively. So if your dog likes to watch the world go by and you have a window with a nice view, set up a window seat for your Fido (you can use something like this) where they can sit and watch the world go by. You can even use an outdoor doghouse with a top deck like this one inside the house.
30. Hall Ball
To play this game and entertain a bored dog, you’re going to have to ignore everything your mother ever told you about playing ball in the house. Perfect for when the weather outside is rotten – to play hall ball find a long hallway in your home, shut any doors, grab a tennis ball and start throwing it for your dog to fetch.
When in Doubt…
Entertaining a bored dog is generally fun for everyone involved. However, if you don’t think that you can keep up with your dog’s energy level or you’re tied down at work, one of the best ways that you can remedy your dog’s boredom is to invest in doggy daycare. It gives your Fido the chance to socialize, play, and run off that extra energy.